College of Humanities & Social Sciences


LSA 2020 Annual Meeting

Photo of faculty and students at 2020 LSA Meeting

We have a full crew representing Western at the 2020 Linguistics Society of America Annual Meeting in New Orleans. From left, Dr. Jordan Sandoval, Dr. Kristin Denham, Dr. Emily Curtis, student Calli Hilvitz, and student Abi Freitag.

Calli and Abi were able to attend this year's conference thanks to the support of Western's College of Humanities and Social Sciences, the AS Student Enhancement Fund, and our generous donors. To make a donation to Western's Linguistics Department, visit


Faculty Spotlight

Photo of Dr. Edward Vajda

"For decades, WWU Linguist Ed Vajda argued Native Americans are linked by language to Central Asia. But can historical linguistics build a case to convince the scientific community?"  - From the Window article "Linguistic Sleuth," by John Thompson.

Read the article HERE.

Faculty Spotlight

Dr. Jordan Sandoval and Dr. Amy LaCross presenting their research at an academic conference.

Western's Dr. Jordan Sandoval (right) poses with Arizona State University colleague Dr. Amy LaCross at the 178th Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America in San Diego, Dec. 2019. Sandoval and LaCross shared their research, along with ASU's Dr. Julie Liss. Their project was titled, "Influence of word size and tonal sequence probability on Mandarin well-formedness judgments."

Linguistics Internship Opportunity

Volunteer at the Whatcom Literacy Council. Learn more about it HERE

Poster for WLC Internship.

Link to 400-level course descriptions

Click HERE to see descriptions for our Winter 2020 LING 400-level courses

Western meets Brčko, the only self-governing, free city in Europe  

The students of LING 402: Language and Society: Language(s) of the Balkans, taught by Fulbright Visiting Professor Marija Runić, Ph.D., from Bosnia and Herzegovina, participated in an online class with high school students from ‘Poliglota’ Language Institute of Brčko, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Brčko is the seat of Brčko District, a self-governing administrative unit, that has become a symbol of multiethnic coexistence in post-war Bosnia and Herzegovina. The students discussed their life on campus and in school, the education system in the two countries, and other topics of their interest. The Bosnian students had the chance to speak to native speakers of English for the first time.

 Photo of students in Brčko posing while on Skype with students from Western 

High school students from Brčko pose while video chatting with linguistics students at Western, fall 2019. Photo courtesy of Marija Runic.

Alum Spotlight

Grace deMeurisse, B.A., '19, Linguistics, was recently in The New York Times. From the article, "I wish I had known how to separate my learning from my grades. My educational experience became profoundly better and more enriched when I learned how to start learning for the sake of learning, and not for the sake of monotonously turning in an assignment for the grade I would get in return." Read more HERE

Grace deMeurisse

Grace deMeurisse at graduation, spring of 2019.


Student and Faculty Spotlight

Students Nancy Brill and Brahm van Woerden presented their research at the 2019 Pronunciation in Second Language Learning and Teaching Conference in Flagstaff, AZ, Sep. 2019.

Linguistics students and faculty shared their research at the 2019 Pronunciation in Second Language Learning and Teaching Conference in Flagstaff, AZ, Sep. 2019.

Faculty and students pose with their research poster in front of the Grand Canyon in Arizona, Sep. 2019. From left, Dr. Jordan Sandoval, Dr. Kirsten Drickey, student Nancy Brill, and student Brahm van Woerden.

NACLO 2020 – The North American Computational Linguistics Olympiad

Since 2012, Western has hosted NACLO, a middle and high school competition for linguistics problem-solving.... READ MORE>>>


Are you a transfer student? Click HERE


Congratulations to our 2018-2019 Outstanding Graduate in Linguistics

Laura Munger

Photo of 2018-2019 Linguistics Outstanding Graduate, Laura Munger

From Western Today: Laura Munger of Portland, Oregon, graduated magna cum laude and with University Honors in June with a Bachelor of Arts degree. She majored in linguistics with a minor in Arabic and Islamic studies. During her time at Western, Munger pursued major-concentrations in second language acquisition and language change, all while maintaining a 3.98 GPA. Her capstone project involved exploring the changing uses of taboo words in English over time. She also worked as a research assistant for Western Talks, helping to raise awareness of linguistic diversity in the WWU community. After graduation, she plans to pursue a doctorate in linguistics at the University of Washington. Munger is a graduate of Central Catholic High School.


Linguistics major, Manda Baur, has been chosen as the winter 2019 College of Humanities and Social Sciences commencement speaker

Photo of Manda and friends

Baur, front, poses with friends on the beach. “They've helped me through a lot the past couple years,” Baur said. Photo courtesy of Manda Baur.

“Baur grew up in the Tri-Cities and graduated from Southridge High School and Columbia Basin College. At Western, Baur has studied linguistic discrimination, particularly oppression through language, and how language affects society. They also volunteered for Jeopardy, Western’s student literary magazine.” Read more about the winter commencement ceremony HERE.


Senior Karlly Palica and sophomore Sarah Bahzad set up a tripod and camera to interview passing students in Red Square on Thursday, March 7. Photo by WWU Visual Journalism student Roisin Cowan-Kuist

Senior Karlly Palica and sophomore Sarah Bahzad set up a tripod and camera to interview passing students in Red Square on Thursday, March 7. The pair conducted a study of accents in the Pacific Northwest for a project in their LING 402 / ENG 436 class. Photo by WWU Visual Journalism student Roisin Cowan-Kuist.

Two Western Linguistics Program Students Awarded Coveted Fulbright Scholarships

Congratulations to Maria José Palacios Figueroa and Kimberly Christensen

Read more about it HERE

Maria José Palacios Figueroa will graduate next month from WWU and then spend next year on a Fulbright to Brazil, teaching English to students who are studying to become English teachers. WWU photo/Rhys Logan

Maria José Palacios Figueroa

Photo of Kimberly Christensen

Kimberly Christensen


Western Washington Linguistics Department

Linguistics is the scientific study of language. There are many ways to pursue the study of language, and as in any scientific discipline, researchers have varied goals, distinct questions to pose, and different directions of research.  Some linguists study the grammar, or rule system, of language, and others are more interested in the social factors, such as gender, age, ethnicity and other variables, that influence how we use language. Still others study how languages change over time, how children acquire language, or how our brains process and produce language. Communication in today’s complex society requires knowledge of the workings of language in general and of specific languages as well as their interrelationship with their respective cultures. All Linguistics majors are expected to acquire knowledge of the workings of language at various levels and demonstrate data analysis and other methodological techniques used to study language. A student of linguistics will thereby significantly advance their understanding of linguistic and cultural diversity and will have the tools to work in and across disciplines to explore questions related to language, and to therefore understand and advance what it means to be human.


Quotes from Outstanding Grads. Email Sara Helms for text.

Mission Statement

Contact Information

Mailing Address

Linguistics Department

Western Washington University

516 High Street, MS 9190

Bellingham, WA 98225

Location: Bond Hall 418

Phone: 360-650-3914

Fax: 360-650-2399